Chilliwack Chiefs head coach Brian Maloney doesn’t comment on BCHL officiating often, but he had a beef with the men in stripes Friday night.
Refereeing, he believes, led to a two goal swing in a key Mainland division battle between Maloney’s Chiefs and the Coquitlam Express.
Trailing 1-0 midway through period two, Chilliwack defenceman Brody Gagno chipped the puck into the Express zone and went to the bench for a change.
Cooper Moore hopped over the boards and joined the play, but before Gagno could get onto the bench, Connor Milburn appeared to score his first career BCHL goal.
Excited for his teammate, Gagno made a bee-line for the celebration scrum.
When the referees noticed six Chilliwack players doing the glove-tap fly-by at the Chiefs bench, they waved the goal off and handed Chilliwack two minutes for two-many-men.
A linesman came to the Chiefs bench and delivered what Maloney deemed to be an inadequate explanation.
“I wanted more than just telling us we had a penalty, because not only have you disallowed a goal but you’ve now put us on the penalty kill,” the bench boss noted. “I tried to explain that our line change had been made before the goal was scored, and I was mad and I said some things to the ref that I apologized for after.”
Whatever Maloney said earned him a two minute bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct, and the Express cashed in 23 seconds later on a goal by Will Margel.
“The unsportsmanlike conduct, that’s on me, and I have to control my anger better in that situation,” Maloney conceded. “But the whole thing went from a wrong call to a disallowed goal, to a penalty, to another penalty and then a goal against.”
Credit to Chilliwack for battling back on the road.
Moore collected his 10th of the season on a power play in the final minute of period two.
Tommy Lyons scored his third goal in four games with the Chiefs 11 minutes into the final frame, and Chilliwack got a hard-earned single point before finally falling in a shootout.
Final shots were dead even at 35-35, providing proof that the Chiefs can go toe-to-toe with the BCHL’s top team when they’re on their game.
“I was proud of the guys for battling back,” Maloney said. “Down 2-0 to a team that hasn’t lost in their own arena this season, we’re definitely playing better these last few games.”
Chilliwack comes out of the weekend with a record of 14-9-4-2, good for 34 points and second place in the Mainland division.
Coquitlam (26-5-0-0) is running away with the division lead and owns the BCHL’s best record.
Langley (13-15-0-1) is third.
The Chiefs are on the road again this weekend for two games against the fifth place Prince George Spruce Kings (11-16-2-3).